House Bill 468 is simple and to the point. It would allow hunting bears with hounds in Montana through July 31st. Plain and simple. There are a lot of ways this could be taken by residents of Montana and I’m sure there will be feedback from all over the spectrum. I think this could be good for the state in the regard of management. For example, Idaho allows using hounds for bear harvest in a lot of areas but I see it as a direct management tool. In some areas ground cover and vegetation make it virtually impossible to harvest enough bears each year to help out the ungulate populations. Yes, baiting is allowed in Idaho but it can be very difficult to harvest a mature bear over bait.
For me, I don’t have an interest in harvesting a bear over bait but it is a great management tool and a good way to introduce kids to hunting and educating them about bears. While I don’t see that baiting will ever be legalized in Montana, hound hunting would be a good management tool and another exciting way to introduce kids into hunting.
There is a page on Facebook I keep tabs on called Yellowstone Bears. This page harbors many “bear lovers” that voice their sometimes violent opinions. There was a thread started (now removed) bashing this bill and how it is totally unacceptable. The consensus there was that hound hunting is just a way for hunters to be lazy and rely on the dogs to do the work making it easy for them to harvest a bear and take all the glory while pumping up their ego.
As most hunters know, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. These folks do not and will not accept and understand wildlife management and the importance of harvesting predators if you’re going to have an ungulate harvest as well. The moral of the story is that it will be hard to win over the general public without understanding a bill like this, so hopefully some education can come out of it as well.
There will be a lot of opposition and it will be hard to manage in grizzly bear country but could be used as a vaualble management tool in some areas. I am a huge proponent of spot and stalk bear hunting, it is what I personally enjoy in more open country units of the state. But I can also see the benefits of hound hunting and how it could be a great tool along the Montana/Idaho border and many other portions of the state where spot and stalk bear hunting is very difficult or nearly impossible.